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Full text of "True heroism, an essential trait in the character of a minister of the Gospel of Christ : a farewell sermon delivered in the Presbyterian Church of Fayetteville, North Carolina ..."

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An Essential trait in tlio Character 

OF 

JH Minister of the Gospel rf Christ 
"A FAREWELL SERMON 

DELIVERED, 






in the -Presbyterian Church of Faycttcviilc, 

North-Carolina, 
On Sunday the 28th day of February, 1810. 

By the Rev. Jesse li. Turner, 
late Pastor of that Church. 

FAYETTEVILLE, (N C.) 
PhINTeJJ BY D. Black, 
1919, 



TO TEE HEADER, 

THE Title of the following Sermon, will sufficiently explain the oc- 
casion on which it was delivered ; and.accoun. tor the peculiar strain, in 
which the sentiments contained in it are conveyed. Ic owes its appear-* 
ance before the public, to the solicitation of its author's friends ; and 
that solicitation has r beeri called forth, not only by their' wish ±o retain 
some memorial of a Pastor whom they loved ; but also, by their anxious 
desire to do justice to iiis character ; an i to siie >ce the rash and c jh ous 
censures oi' his enemies ; whose misrepi; sentntions of this parting address 
to his flock, were likely to operate to the injury of his good name. A 
friend, who, in the author's absence from the press, superintends the pub- 
lication of the following Sermon, deems it proper to make this state- 
ment, to satisfy the inquiries of any, who nay desire to know, why this 
discourse was sent to the press. May the blessing of him, from whom 
alone the increase must come, attend this last public effort of a faithful 
servant of Christ, lo do good to the souls of a people,' among whom, he 
had laboured, with indefatigable diligence, for five years ; and may the 
perusal of the following pages be found, abundantly to promote the spiritu" 
a! edification of ah\ in whose hands, God, in his good providence, may 
place this production of one, whose voice, for aaght we know, has been 
heard, in this place, for the last time. 
Fayetteville, May 5th 1819. 



A SERMON 



Acts XX. 22, 23, and 24. " Asd npw, behold, I go bound in the SpiRl 
onto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there : 

Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every City, saying, that bonds 
and afflictions abide me. 

But none of these things move me, neither count Imy life dear unto 
myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, 
which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the graco 
of God." 

THESE words were addressed by the Apostle Paul, (o the 
Elders of Ephesus. The occasion of them was not only 
very interestiug but somewhat singular : they form a part of 
his parting or farewell address :— I have chosen thrse words, 
Brethren, because I consider my present circumstances some- 
what identified with his. / too have gone in and out among 
you, " serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with ma- 
ny tears and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of 
mine enemies 2" And I can say with him, that " I kept back 
" nothing that was profitable unto you ; but have shewed you, &. 
"taught you publicly, and from house to house.'* I can also say, 
"And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I 
" have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no 
li more: % ' I am, in one word, about to leave you. My minis- 
tratiens, public and private— mycounsels, admonitions, expos- 
tulations and warnings, are about to cease— and, as the last ser- 
vice which I shall ever have it in my power to render you, I arft 
about to commit you to the care of the great Shepheid and 
Bishop of your souls. Under these circumstances, the words just 
read in your hearing, are remarkably descriptive of my feelings. 
I go away : Duty impels me to the measure — but I must cast 
" one longing, lingering look behind." My spirit is bound, be- 
cause I leave a people for whom I have prayed, and for whom I- 
have laboured : I leave a people, with whom " I have taken 
"sweet counsel" & with whom I have "walked to the house of 
"God in company." I leave a people, with whom I have ap- 
proached the same altar ; and there, broke the consecrated bread, 
and drank the consecrated wine ! And how do I leave you ? Un«- 
der the care of some man of God, who will feel for you, as I have 
felt for you ? Under the guidance of some kind Pastor, who 
will defend you from all your enemies, and feed you with food 
convenient for you ? No ! my Brethren : but, I leave you, as 
" sheep without a Shepherd," or, as a Church without a Pastor. 
I am, therefore, not only bound, but pained in spirit. In my 
sympathy for you, I lose sight of myself—" the bonds, the ofHi-c- 



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" tions" & the trials,- which await me elsewhere, disappear from 
my view ; and I feel disposed to pour forth my whole soul in 
prayer, that these calamities may be averted, not lrom me, but 
.jfrajn you. There is, my Brethren, such a grandeur in the min- 
i istry of the gospel — the design, the object, and the end, are so 
eublime, that the soul set on fire by the fervour of zeal, ceases 
to be concerned about self ; and looks only at the great principle 
of duty. In the midst of bonds, afflictions, imprisonments, and 
deaths— in the midst of the rage of malice, and the fire of perse- 
cution, it boldly steps forth, and, in the language of our Apostle, 
declares, "none of these things move me ; nor do I couut life 
" itself dear unto me, so that I may finish my course with joy, 
" and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to 
<* testify the Gospel of the grace of God." 

My object at this time, is, to shew, in as few words as possible, 
that it r^uires a no small share of true heroism, first to engage 
in the Ministry of the Lord Jesus, and then to continue in it. 
Having done this, I shall proceed to some remarks adapted to the 
present occasion. I am to spend a few moments in shewing, 
that it requires a no small share of true heroism, first to engage 
in the ministry of the Lord Jesus, and then to continue in it. 

To do this, it appears to me, that I need only direct you to 
the text. Look at the words which have just been read in your 
hearing ; and mark their import. " And now behold I go bound 
" in spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall be- 
<e fall me there : save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every|city, 
"saying that bonds and afflictions abide me." Is it possible, that 
the Apostle, with the full knowledge of these afflictions, can per- 
severe ? They have not the least influence upon him — they no 
more divert him from his purpose, than the loose atom, floating 
in the atmosphere, can change the course of the sun, or defeat 
his purpose. But you will say, that he contemplated these perils 
at a distance ; and therefore assumed a boasted heroism, which 
forsook him, when pressed with present danger. But let us 
hear the account which he gives of himself. "Of the Jews five 
" times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten 
" with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a 
" night and a day have I been in the deep ; in journeyings joften, 
"in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own 
" countrymen, in perils by the Heathen, in perils in the city, 
" in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among 
"false Brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, 
"in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." 
Yet "none of these things move me, neither count I my life 
" dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, 
" and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to 
<: testify the gospel of the grace of God " 
These were the afflictions which attended the ministry in the 



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cariy ages of Christianity — but besides these, there are others 
which attach to the sacred office, in all ages of thejworld. Per- 
mit me to mention, 1st. That the ministry never has been, 
nor ever will be, the road to wealth or preferment. What, I 
will ask, are the great governing principles of the world ? They 
are, a strong sense of interest, and ascrupulous regard to policy.; 
Whilst, therefore, the Merchant grows rich, and even the Me- 
chanic talks of his gains— and whilst men of other professsions 
are steadily walking in the road of honor ; it is no uncommon 
thing, for Ministers, to live poor, and to die neglected. And 
besides, the means by which they obtain bread for themselves 
and their families, are often humiliating to the very extreme. 
It is a fact, which cannot be denied, that the ministry is not 
generally supported, from the influence of principle : The peo- 
ple do not give their money, feeling that their Minister has a 
right to it ; but they consider him as an object of public charity : 
They wish him to continue among them, because he is often 
convenient to them ; and because' his office tends to their respec 
tability ; just as it increases the pride of some rich Lord, to have 
a servant of superior order in his retinue : but it never occurs- to 
them, that they are doing nothing more than their duty, in con- 
tributing their full proportion to his temporal support : they 
father put this down, as a work of charity. 

And, as to preferment, what may a Minister expect ? If he 
receives common decency, and common civility* and common 
honesty, at the hands of the people, he may even congratulate 
himself. I do not speak Of all : I rejoice to say, there are many 
noble exceptions to this remark: — there are many, who es- 
teem their Ministers very highly for their work's. sake ; But the 
common sentiment among mankind is,' 1 that, setting aside his 
books, his Bible, and his religion, a Minister knows nothing.—* 
" He is a good man," say they " but what does he know of the 
" world, of politics, of the relations of nations, or of the great in- 
" terests of Mankind '?" Advice, or even an opinion, on these sub- 
jects, from a Minister, is regarded as preposterous; and treat* 
ed with ridicule. 

Now, what effect must these things have upon a generoua 
spirit? Is a Minister so different from all the world, that he 
can embrace poverty, for its own native loveliness ? Must he 
confine himself to the vale of humility, and to the limits of his 
own Parish, because there is nothing in the charms of fame to 
allure him ? Must he clip the wings of ambition, because he 
does not love to soar aloft ? what heroism, then, does it require, 
to rise superior to these things ! Yes ; Brethren ;— the Minis- 
ter, must consider those things small, which all the world con- 
sider great — he must regard them as base and contemptible, in 
omparison of theGospel of Christ. But Again— ta© Minis-.. 



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te* iius .a conscience ; yes !, strange as it may appear to mefny, 
he has a conscience ; and, unfortunately for the people, lii» con- 
science is not always made of as pliant materials as they sup- 
pose it ought to be. He is, in one word, so superstitious, as 
to believe, that he " ought to obey God rather than Man." JSow 
as the Jews did not understand Peter and John when they as- 
serted that their conscience was in their duty, no more cat* 
the people, at this day, understand the Minister, when he 
speaks. of his conscience : And what is the ^ consequence ? 
why, if he fail, in one instance, to gratify their wishes, though 
he does it in terms the most mild and conciliating, yet theyaic 
offended ; and embrace every opportunity to express their hat- 
red to him. The king of Israel, and Jehosaphal king of Judah, 
consulted together, that they might take Ramoth Gilead in bat- 
tle: — In those days it was customary to enquire of Prophets, as 
to the success of such enterprises. Accordingly, these kings 
assembled together a large numberof Prophets, about four hun- 
dred, and enquired of them. They all, to a man, encouraged 
them ; saying" Go ufi % for the Lord hath delivered it into your 
M hand" — But, it appears, that the king of Judah did not give full 
credit to their testimony :— for he asked " Is there not here 
" a Prophet of the Lord besides, that we may enquire of him"? 
" And the king of Israel said, there is one man, Micaiah, the 
"son of Imlah, but I hate him ; for he doth not prophecy good 
" of me, but evil." Neveitheless, when Micaiah is called for, 
bow does he act ? Does he imitate the conduct of the 400 ? Does 
he conciliate the favour of the king at the expense of his con- 
science ? No ! but he has heroism enough to please God rather 
than Man—" As the Lord liveth, what the Lord saith unto me, 
« that will I apeak"— -But 

Lastly — Ministers- have often to groan, and to shed tears of 
bitterness, in secret, over the. hardness and stupidity of their 
people You have heard of the lamentation of Isaiah—." Behold 

'*' I have laboured for nought : all day long have I stretched forth 
"my hand, to a disobedient and gainsaying people. "You have also 
read the plaintive accents of the sorrowing Jeremiah—" Oh! 
" that mine head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, 
" that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughters 

' " of my people ! Oh ! that I had in the wilderness a lodging place 

' •" of way-faring men, that I might leave my people, and go from 
« them : for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous 

• ** men." And you may suppose that these lamentations were con- 
fined to those days ; but you are greatly mistaken : Ministers 
now " wet their couch with tears" yea, "rivers of waters, 
" run down their eyes, because men make void the law of God." 
They go into their pulpit, and they preach plainly and affec- 
tionately: they shun not to declare all the counsel of God. 
They admonish and they* expostulate : they say, with tear$j 



'-' Qii 1 ihat ifcou hadst known, even now, iq this thy day, the* 
things that belong to ihy peace !*' but they go from their pulpits 
with a heavy heart ; and, at night, complain " we have stretch- 
ed forth our hand all the day long to a disobedient and gain- 
saying people." I will also add, that Ministers groan under a 
sense of those corruptions, which prevail in their Churches; 
corruptions, which they see, but cannot reform. 

These, Brethren, are some of the afflictions, which embitter 
the life of a Minister : I say, some of them ; because, were I 
to detail the whole, I should more than tire your patience. A 
Minister, then, is not satisfied, when his people come regular- 
ly to hear him preach, and as regularly pay him his salary : 
he watches for their souls ; and nothing* short of this, will sa- 
tisfy him : Considering, then, all the afflictions, the poverty, the 
self denial, and the mortification, which a Minister has to en- 
dure ; does it not require a more than ordinary share of true 
heroism to say " none ol these things move me"? Surely it does ! 

We shall now proceed to some remarks applicable to the 
present occason. 

Brethern, my time is very short among you, so short, that h 
has dwindled to the merest 9pan — lam now rendering n»y last 
service ; and that is almost over. Our times ef meeting for 
social converse, our opportunities of walking to the house of 
God in company, are all past. I address you for the last time— 
I see you for the last time, 'till we shall meet at the bar of our 
common Judge. I therefore teel at a great loss, how I can best 
improve the few remaining moments — I have scarcely eve», dur- 
ing the whole time of my Ministry among you, descended froia 
the pulpit, and felt altogether satisfied with the performance : 
something was faulty, either in the matter, or. the manner, and 
often in both, which was cause of humiliation when I retired by 
myself; but then, I comforted myself with the hope, that the 
next performance would be of a better quality : that hope can no 
longer support me: I am therefore exceedingly anxious for tho 
result~Imust, however, proceed to say something : And 

1st. I must say, that it grieves me exceedingly to leave one 
enemy to the Lord Jesus Christ behind. The great object of 
the Gospel Ministry is to persuade sinnei s, in Christ's stead, to be 
reconciled to God : this, I have endeavoured, in various ways, and 
in many instances. I have painted in your view, the comforts, tfaej 
exquisite enjoyments of religion. I have described the Lord Jesua 
Christ, hanging on the Cross ; and I have used his language—- 
" Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and |_ 
" will give you rest" I have represented ftiMf danger, and your 
condemnation, as sinners, before God. I have inferred you to a. 
death-bed ; and depicted the horrors which await you 
there. I have also placed you at the bar of your God, and in- 
sisted upon the terror of your sentence. 1 have, then, besought 



anil Ifttreatied .you s to fly to the hopes set before you in the Go> 
pel of Christ. On;some occasions, I have seen you moved. Like- 
Agrippa, you were ready to,, exclaim, " Almost thou persuad 
" est me to be a Christian." My hopes have been raised, and my 
expectations were increased, almost to a certainty. But, what 
bas been the result of the whole ? Oh 1 it pains toe to say, that 
many of you are still aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, and 
strangers to the< covenant of promise— still in the gall of bitter- 
ness and in ihebonds of iniquity. And now, my friends, what 
shall I say to such of ypu as. yet remain in this unhappy condi- 
tion : I must not withhold the dreadful truth ! You are a hundred 
fold worse now, than you were five years ago — -Your hearts are 
harder ; and, if possible, even more impenitent. The Gospel ycu 
have heard — the invitations you have rejected —the priviliges you 
Jiave abused-^the mercies you have contemned — and the warn- 
ings, the reproofs, and the expostulations, you have slighted, will 
iU have a dreadful bearing upon your condemnation : Your sins 
Rave made youjin important creature in the hands of God. Ho 
will not overlook you in the day of his wrath ; but he will pro- 
duce you. as vessels fitted to destruction* Let all those who 
Srget God, think on these things least he tear them in pieces. 

To the Church I woula say, " Finally, Brethren, farewell : be 
^perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and 
" the God of love and peace shall be with you" I have preached to 
you " the unsearchable riches that are in Christ.: To you, I have 
also dispensed the sealing ordinances of God's house — This I 
did, that I might build you up in the most holy faith ;and that 
I might present you holy and unblamable, at the coming of the 
Lord Jesus, without spot, or blemish, or any such thing : Never- 
theless, I must say, in the language of revelation, " 1 have some- 
" what against you ; for I have not found your works perfect be- 
*' fore God." There has always been in this Church, too strong 
a disposition to unite those things which God hath declared se- 
perate: the world, its policy, its maxims, its fashions, and its 
amusements, have entered too much into your religion ; and 
corrupted its holy simplicity. You have not come out from the 
world and been separate ; and this, I am persuaded, has dono 
you more injury, as a Church, than the combined efforts of all 
your enemies. And now, Brethren, suffer the word of exhorta- 
tion, for a few moments. 1 shall 6oon cease to speak to you s and 
you will see my face no more. I would exhort you, then, for 
the last time, " be zealous and repent :" cease to corrupt the 
pure doctrines of Christianity. Let the religion of our blessed 
Jesus, which you have professed, be exhibited, in your lire and 
conversation, in all its native purity. Depend upon it, the Ball 
Room, the Theatre, and the Card-Table, are but illy cal" 
cuLied to promote an increase of holiness. 



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Let me also exhort you, to keep the "unity of the spirit ;in 
the bond of 'peace : Your present situation calls loudly for the 
most perfect unanimity : You are just about to become a va- 

' cant people : You will not, I trust, remain long in this situa- 
tion : A most delicate and important duty, therefore, awaits you: 
You wilfbe assembled, and your suffrages will be taken., in the 
choice of a Pastor. If, then, there be divisions among you ; if 
one declares himself for Paul-— another for Apollos, "a third for 
Cephas, and a fourth for some other man, the consequence will 
be, that yoi.i will remain long, as sheep' without a 'Shepherd. 
Ministers have feelings ; and I am persuaded', that no man of 
feaF worth, will take the charge of yon, under these circumstan- 
ces .And, in the choice of a Minister, I would advise you, not to 
be too tenacious', as to his natural or acquired qualifications. I 
have known many Ministers who could sing a pledsant song : and 
they sung it throughout the course of a long life ; and yet, per- 
haps, could not mention One individual, of whose conversion 

. they had been the instruments. I have also known Ministers** of 
good sense, but of moderate acquirements, who, by their dili- 
gence, their'zealj'and j their perseverance, were made the hap- 
py instruments of turning many to God. It pleases God, by 
weak things, often to confound the strong. If, therefore, it 
pleases God, to send you a man of plain sense, and of fervent 
piety— who, although he cannot flourish in all the arts of 
polished eloquence, can, nevertheless, convince the sinner, and 
direct the humble enquirer to the Lord Jesus Christ—" receive 
" such an one, I say, and esteem him very highly for his work's 
" sake" I lay the greater stress upon this, because there is mani- 
festly a disposition at the present day, to refine upon the sim- 
plicity of the gospel. Our Saviour spoke in plain language— 
the Apostles used the same strain ; and, whenever we attempt to 
prune their discourses, or to polish their doctrines* we destroy 
their sublimity ; and reduce them to a level with our feeble pro- 
ductions. 

I must also say a word to the youth of our congregation;— 
My dear friends, I have always considered you as the Lambs of 
my flock. I have, therefore, taken you into my^arms ; and cher- 
ished you in my bosom. I have considered you as needing in- 
struction ; and have therefore, endeavoured to instruct you. Be- 
sides my public ministrations, I have put into your hands, the 
best compends,ofali the doctrines comprised in our holy rehgion. 
You know, that, although exhausted through the labors of the 
day, I have not failed to give you this separate instruction. 
Some of you, by your diligence, your obedience, and perseve- 
rance, have endeared yourselves to me. f shall never forget 
the tender plants which I have nurtured with my own hand. 
Hear, then, the voice of your friend and instructor. " Fear God" 
'and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man: 



( to } 

".—remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth— henar 
"thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the 
." land which the Lord thy God givelh thee." Shun the paths of 
pleasureable sin ; for they lead to hell— Begin every day with 
prayer ; and set apart a certain portion of it, for reading the Holy 
Scriptures. Thus will you be a crown of glory to your parents ; 
and God will bless you. 

To the congregation, who have waited upon my minis- 
try, I would also say a few things. I know that my services a- 
mong you, have been very feeble, and very few. I Jiave abundant 
reason to humble myself before God, that I have been so cold, and 
so negligent. I, however, have a consciousness, that X have not 
" handled the word of God deceitfully:" I have always endeavour- 
ed to order my ministry so that I might say with the Apostle. " I 
" have not shunned to declare all the counsel of God." And now 
" before God I protust— -behold, I am pure from the blood of 
" every man." There is not one among you, whom I have not 
warned, and admonished, to flee from the wrath which is to come. 
If, therefore, you perish, your blood be upon your own heads. 
I beseech you, Dear Brethren, to lay it to heart, that we shall 
meet again. Yes; Minister and people, shall stand, lace to face, 
at the bar of our God. I, to render an account of my ministry ; 
and you, to render an account of the manner in which you havo 
improved it. May God, of his infinite mercy, grant, that we 
may meet, with exceeding joy and gladness ! 

I thank you for all the kindness which you, have rendered me 
and mine. May God reward you, even for the cop of cold wa- 
ter, which you have given mejin the name of a Disciple ! My 
enemies, I forgive ; and I pray that God may forgive them al- 
so. Nothing remains, but that I now give you my blessing. 
May God bless and prosper this Church ! May God defend yon 
during your -vacancy ! May He send you a Shepherd after 
his own heart ! May times of refreshing come from his glori- 
ous presence ! May all the congregation, and all now present} 
be blessed in time, and blessed in eternity. 



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